Directing duo, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, return for the first time since their debut feature film, Vacation, released nearly three years ago. While Vacation was received very poorly by fans and critics, that should not deter audiences from seeing their new film, Game Night. After a not-so-great marketing campaign, I think most people left this movie for dead. However, there are times when a poorly marketed film turns to be really good and this was one of those cases.
Game Night follows ultra-competitive married couple Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), along with the friends that they regularly meet with for game nights. The relationship between Max and Annie is briefly but effectively introduced at the start of the film and you buy into their relationship right away. A short montage shows them go from new couple to newlyweds and eventually brings us to present day. It is then that we learn of a certain marital problem Max and Annie seem to be having. Despite that, the otherwise happy couple host their regularly scheduled game night, to which Max’s estranged brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), is set to show up to. After a successful night of fun, Brooks offers to host a game night of his own, a night that he promises will be unforgettable. That is when things take a turn for the worst.
Up until that point, Game Night had relied mostly on its comedy. However, one of the most surprising aspects of this film is how much it manages to feel like a thrilling murder-mystery type of film. When it is that, the film actually runs very smoothly. Ironically enough, it is the comedic aspects of the film that drags the film down a little bit. The film has jokes at nearly every scene, so it would be insane to ask for every single one of them evoke real laughter. Even though not every joke lands, however, the ones that do, do so strongly. Jesse Plemons, who plays awkward police officer/neighbor Gary, is a constant scene-stealer and played his character to perfection.
As previously mentioned, Game Night shines when it isn’t trying to be the next best comedy. When we are dealing with the film’s mystery, it is actually a very intriguing story full of twists and turns that you will not see coming at all. The supporting cast also adds a lot to the film. There are two other couples that typically hang out with Annie and Max, and each seems to have its own side issues to deal with. Oftentimes, comedic films don’t really make proper use of the supporting casts’ work. That was not to be the case here. Whether it’s Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) fighting over one of Michelle’s secrets or Ryan (Billy Magnussen) dealing with a date that is smarter than his usual conquests (Sharon Horgan), the supporting cast is used wonderfully.
Stylistically, the film does use some unconventional and rather ineffective filming choices. I respect the fact that the directors were trying to do something different but the speed at which the camera moved sometimes was difficult to keep up with. All of that aside, Game Night is a quite enjoyable film that never really goes the way you would expect and that is a very commendable thing to be. It is certainly funny and thrilling enough to warrant a trip to the movies, especially for those looking for a chance of pace from last week’s Black Panther. It might not be perfect, but it is far better than anyone could have predicted.
|Game Night (2018)|
|Director:||John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein|
|Release Date:||February 22, 2018|